Notes: B’Elanna left the Academy in her sophomore year and ended up on Voyager 5 years later (3 after she should have graduated), so it would now be her 10th. Reunion year. Originally written just after attending my own college reunion two weeks after “Endgame” aired, revised so as not to conflict with “Homecoming” and “The Farther Shore”, including moving the reunion from spring to fall.
“We’re going to be late”, Tom said while fussing with the collar of his dress uniform.
“I’m almost ready” B’Elanna came up beside Tom and checked their reflections in the mirror. It still seemed strange wearing the new dress uniforms. “The collars on these things make me feel like I’m wearing my cadet uniform. I’m still not sure why we’re going. I didn’t graduate, remember?”
“Doesn’t matter; you entered the Academy in the Class of 2367 so as far as personnel is concerned you’re part of that class. Now come on. It should be fun, and since Miral’s with my parents…”
“I don’t feel right leaving her.”
Tom didn’t let her finish. “Relax. They did raise three children. And she stayed with them when you first went to Boreth and I had to leave her. They’ve been looking for a reason to have her to themselves again since we got back from Boreth. Now lets go.”
Entering the Academy campus they headed for one of the tents scattered across the lawns. From the number of people on the grounds it appeared this year’s reunions were well attended.
“I’m still upset with the way Starfleet handled the promotions, but tonight I appreciate the rank. You do realize we’re still probably going to be the most junior officers here? I was reading the class record book and just about everyone who’s still in Starfleet made Lieutenant Commander a while ago. Those that are still alive, anyway.” The Dominion War had become a bit of a sore subject for the Voyager crew. As hard as their years in the Delta Quadrant had been they paled in comparison to the losses at home. “I think we even have a few full Commanders.”
“Hey, at least we still outrank Harry. Shall we enter, Commander?” Tom teased.
Much to her surprise, B’Elanna did have fun. Since Voyager’s return the previous spring they had become celebrities, and it seemed as if everywhere they went people came up to speak to them, much to B’Elanna’s embarrassment. But at least here she knew some people and had a connection with everyone else - shared memories of their time here.
When dinner was served they sat with B’Elanna’s former roommate and her husband, and people she knew from engineering classes and the decathlon team. They talked about the things everyone discusses at reunions, places they’d been, who had gotten married and/or divorced, children. Tom and B’Elanna shared stories of day to day experiences in the Delta Quadrant, like foraging for fruit on uninhabited M-Class Planets, Neelix’s interpretations of the crew’s cuisine and customs, Captain Proton. The only awkward moment came when someone asked about Max. She and Tom exchanged glances, then B’Elanna told them he hadn’t made it off the Equinox before she exploded. Better they didn’t know the details.
As everyone finished their coffee and desert several officers gathered around the podium set up at one end of the enclosed space. The Class President addressed the gathering - “Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased that so many of you have been able to attend our 10th Reunion. Nearly half of our surviving class members, or about a third of our original class, are here tonight. In memory of the almost 40 percent of our number who died in the line of duty we will be dedicating a fountain, inscribed with each of their names, in the Memorial Garden tomorrow at 1300. I hope many of you will attend. For now please stand and join me in a moment of silence.” After a minute he proposed a toast - “To absent friends.”
Once they had all resumed their seats he continued “It is now my privilege to introduce the Commandant of the Academy, Admiral Walsh.”
“One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is to greet the alumni at their reunions. This year in particular, since I am celebrating my own 35th. Reunion.” She paused as the audience applauded. “As I stop at each class’ gathering I acknowledge the person who has traveled the furthest to attend his or her reunion. It should come as no surprise that, for the Class of ’67 that officer is B’Elanna Torres, who has been on leave since her return from the Delta Quadrant in May.” Amid clapping the Admiral gestured for B’Elanna to join her. She pulled Tom along.
The Admiral handed her a certificate then, indicating that they should stay, continued. “When we began to receive regular transmissions from Voyager, Starfleet Command noticed that the records included a significant number of examination results, research projects and papers. Being cut off from home with few opportunities for shore leave must have made studying seem a good way to pass the time.” She glanced to Tom and B’Elanna, who nodded. “Each department here at Starfleet Academy was tasked with reviewing these records and granting proper credit for courses completed and equivalent work. Commander Torres’ file was one of the most extensive.”
“Lieutenant Commander Torres.” She turned towards B’Elanna, who came to attention. “The Academy Academic Council, having determined that your course work, while a student here and completed on Voyager, combined with your theoretical studies and documented practical innovations, satisfy the credit requirements, it is my privilege to award you Starfleet Academy Bachelor’s and Master’s of Sciences Degrees in Engineering, with honors. Congratulations, Commander.”
Tom broke into a huge grin. B’Elanna was so surprised she almost dropped the diplomas the Admiral handed to her. Her classmates were all standing and applauding. The noise gave her a few moments to collect her thoughts. She hadn’t taken the versions of advanced courses stored in the ship’s computer for the credit, but to prove to herself she could have made it academically. And, as the Admiral said, studying was a good way to fill in the occasional periods of downtime, particularly at first when she didn’t socialize much. The studies and documentation, she suspected, were actually reports she’d written for Captain Janeway, some summarizing efforts that had paid off or failed, others proposals for things she thought they might someday be able to implement, given time and resources. As for the Masters, she wondered what they’d accepted for a thesis – the detailed analysis of the prototype android? Or maybe the paper she’d presented at that conference last year? She’d have to stop by the Engineering Department Office and find out.
Finally, Admiral Walsh motioned her to the podium.
“Thank you. I have often regretted not graduating with the rest of you. But when I left here twelve years ago I didn’t want to have anything more to do with Starfleet. It took time, and being stranded in the Delta Quadrant, to change my mind.” She paused, smiling at the muted laughter. “Now, with the Admiral’s permission, I suggest we end the speeches. This is a party.” Her last remarks were greeted with applause and someone piped up “Second the motion.”
“Permission granted” Admiral Walsh replied “I do have my own party to attend, after all. Goodnight”. With that she headed for the exit, stopping briefly at each table she passed.
Once she’d left, the music started and the party continued until midnight. Tom and B’Elanna were among the last to leave. It was good to be home.